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It seems that Dricus Du Plessis has done an excellent job of getting under Israel Adesanya’s skin. The South African UFC fighter has made a campaign of thinly veiled potshots at the Nigerian-born New Zealand-based title holder, consistently suggesting that men like Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman aren’t “real Africans” because they don’t live on the continent anymore. Nevermind that both the ‘Last Stylebender’ and the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ were transplanted as children who moved with their families, Du Plessis seems to take it as a slight that they continue to lay claim to their heritage.
Du Plessis has made a point of taking shots at Adesanya and Usman
“Did those belts ever go to Africa?” Du Plessis asked the assembled media, speaking of Adesanya and Usman after UFC 285. “As far as I know, they came to America and New Zealand. I’m going to take a belt to Africa. I’m the African fighter in the UFC. Myself and Cameron [Saaiman], we breathe African air. We wake up in Africa every day. We train in Africa, we’re African born, we’re African raised, we still reside in Africa; we train out of Africa—that’s an African champion, and that’s who I’ll be.”
If he’s hoping to get a rise out of the City Kickboxing star, by all appearances he’s succeeding. Israel Adesanya was asked about Du Plessis as a potential top contender after his stunning KO victory over Alex Pereira at UFC 287 this last weekend. The response from the 33-year-old couldn’t have been more forceful.
Those shots haven’t gone unnoticed by Israel Adesanya
“Look—fuck, I don’t wanna give this n-gga no clout,” Adesanya responded when asked about Du Plessis. “I want to whoop his ass so bad. I want to whoop his ass so bad; I want to do it in South Africa or Nigeria. But he’s gotta do work. He’s gotta do something, show me something, so I can whoop that ass. And I can show you history. I’ll remind you, because you gotta choose your words wisely, when you speak on people that have come before you, people that paved the way for you.
“You gotta choose your words wisely. You want to try and be a big boy, you want to bam-ba, you want to chill with the big boys? You gotta choose your words wisely.”
Despite his clear disdain for Du Plessis, however, it sounds like Israel Adesanya would be 100% down for the fight if the Team CIT talent can work his way to contention. If for no other reason than an opportunity for public humiliation.
“I don’t want to give him no clout, but if he does work—and I pray to God he keeps winning—I will gladly drag his carcass across South Africa.”
Du Plessis is currently on a seven-fight winning streak, stretching back to a 2018 loss to Roberto Soldic in KSW. ‘Stillknocks’ made the jump to the Octagon off back-to-back wins in 2019, and has been unbeaten through five bouts with the UFC so far. His most recent victory came against longtime contender Derek Brunson at UFC 285 back in March. After a rough first round, Du Plessis rallied in the second to force a corner stoppage at 4:59 of round 2.
It just might be that title contention will come swiftly the 29-year-old fighting out of Pretoria. A quick glance at the UFC rankings shows that despite Du Plessis sitting in the six-spot at 185, every fighter ranked ahead of him has already fought and lost to Israel Adesanya at least once before. If Du Plessis can get another big win in the not too distant future, he just might find himself with a chance for gold. And Israel Adesanya might just find himself with a chance to silence an upstart rival.
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